They’re cute, huggable, and a very important part of your daily wellbeing. The health benefits your dog brings you with each tail wag are vast. Research shows hanging out with your dog reduces anxiety, curbs loneliness, and makes you feel supported – and they can also help keep you fit, because they keep you moving!

Here are five reasons to hang out more with your BFF to boost your health and happiness at the same time.

1. They’re great workout buddies. When you have a buddy that’s counting on you to show up, you’re less likely to skip the workout. Studies also show when you workout with a significant other (in this case, your dog), that quality time has a positive, emotional benefit. Go for a run or power walk until you’re both panting or go for a summer splash in a swimming hole together!

2. They demand routine. Because pooches are creatures of habit, your time with them each day is like a personal ritual that can be nourishing for both of you. Routine provides grounding structure, which then produces mental and emotional peace. Figure out a daily schedule for a spunky walk or serious game of fetch, and stick to that time frame as much as possible.

3. They keep you connected to nature. You’re more likely to seek out parks, trails, and hikes when your pal is ready to go on your time, rather than wait for busy schedules to sync with another human. Studies show time outdoors helps your attention span and ability to solve problems, in addition to reducing stress. Find an outdoor space near you so you’ll go more often, perhaps one that lets dogs off leash for optimal joy!

4. They help you mind your manners. Making sure your dog is socialized and can behave well in public makes you pay more attention to the impact of your own actions on others. By teaching them good behavior, you’re also practicing and reinforcing your own mindfulness.

5. They prevent Isolation. Generally, most dog people are friendly with one other, and having a community of like-minded people is another path to happiness. Join a dog group or subscribe to a calendar for dog socials – perhaps with owners and pups of the same breed!

If you’re thinking about getting a dog for health or companionship, make sure you’re able to provide quality care and time. It’s also a good idea pick a breed that fits your personality and lifestyle. The right companion can change your life for the better!